Between crime and colony: Interrogating (im)mobilities aboard the convict ship

Kimberley Peters, Jennifer Elizabeth Turner

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Recent literature in carceral geography has attended to the importance of mobilities in interrogating the experience and control of spaces of imprisonment, detention and confinement. Scholars have explored the paradoxical nature of incarcerated experience as individuals oscillate between moments of fixity and motion as they are transported to/from carceral environments. This paper draws upon the convict ship – an example yet to gain attention within these emerging discussions – which is both an exemplar of this paradox and a lens through which to complicate understandings of carceral (im)mobilities. The ship is a space of macro-movement from point A to B, whilst simultaneously a site of apparent confinement for those aboard who are unable to move beyond its physical parameters. Yet, we contend that all manner of mobilities permeate the internal space of the ship. Accordingly, we challenge the binary thinking that separates moments of fixity from motion and explore the constituent parts that shape movement. In paying attention to movements in motion on the ship, we argue that studies of carceral mobility must attend to both methods of moving in the space between points A and B; as micro, embodied and intimate (im)mobilities are also played out within large-scale regimes of movement. Document embargo until 23/08/2016.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-862
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Issue number7
Early online date23 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • carceral
  • mobilities
  • movement
  • convict ships
  • transportation


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